2017 NHL Trade Deadline: “Who’s Next” to leave the Lightning?

With Lightning way off the playoff pace, who has their bags packed?

In 1971, The Who recorded and released an album titled “Who’s Next.” The album proved to be one of The Who’s best, providing such lasting hits as Baba O’Rielly, Behind Blue Eyes, and Won’t Get Fooled Again. It’s rather fitting that the Lightning play the intro of Won’t Get Fooled Again as the Lightning take the ice before a game at Amalie Arena.

With Ben Bishop now departed for the west coast, it begs the question — Who’s Next? Pierre LeBrun of ESPN stated that he thought Steve Yzerman would have traded Bishop even if the team was in a playoff spot.

The Lightning are not in a playoff spot, and they aren’t close. There are so many teams to jump in the race that even when the team went on a 5-0-2 streak, they only picked up a point on the second wild card. It was too little too late for the Lightning to salvage this disappointment of a season.

So now we’re left looking at where the team goes over the next few days before the deadline on March 1. The trade market has definitely heated up with Martin Hanzal going to the Minnesota Wild. Brian Boyle’s name has been circling around, as well as reports that Valtteri Filppula is available. Tyler Johnson could also be a cap casualty with the raise that he is likely to command over the summer as a restricted free agent.

While Jason Garrison is a contract I would like to see moved out, I doubt it’ll happen here at the deadline. But Boyle and Filppula both have value and are having good seasons that would be valued by legitimate playoff contenders.

Boyle’s name has been linked with Edmonton, who would like him as a veteran leader with over 100 games of playoff experience. He also brings the kind of size and toughness that is necessary in the Western Conference as well as having an underrated nose for the net.

Filppula, like Boyle, brings a ton of playoff experience and a veteran voice to a locker room. Filppula has almost never missed the playoffs. You have to go back to 2004-05 while he was playing in Finland to find a year where he did not play a playoff game. Filppula is a winner and a highly competitive player. Consider that he has 152 NHL playoff games. That’s basically two full seasons of hockey just in the playoffs.

Johnson is a center that is a borderline number one. He may not be an elite, franchise center like Crosby or Kopitar, but he can be one of the best second centers in the league. And if you’re number one falls or falters in the playoffs, he has proven he is a contributor when the games matter the most. With 21 goals and 21 assists in 47 playoff games, he’s got the offense to contribute when the going gets tough. He would be a player that a team could acquire and commit to for this playoff run and into the future when they sign him to a new contract in the summer.

Erik Cernak may be just the tip of the iceberg for what the Lightning gain coming out of this trade deadline. There’s still a lot to be explored. Yzerman may not have blue eyes, but there’s certainly a lot going on behind those eyes as the trade deadline approaches. And Filppula, Boyle, and Johnson should keep a travel bag packed and ready to go just in case.